by Steve Slais
While establishing an online presence has long been an important part of running a successful small business, the last few years have illustrated the critical nature of this concept. When the pandemic greatly reduced in-store access to customers virtually overnight, some businesses that did not have a strong website and eCommerce channels were negatively impacted. How can you improve online marketing to ensure that all your customers have access to your brand during every step of the customer buyer journey?
Think about this: Nearly 70 percent of consumers report they are more likely to buy from businesses that offer complete online services. That means you need to have more than just an online presence. You need to have a website that is able to provide prospects with everything they need to make a purchase decision. And ideally, a site that makes it possible for them to instantly complete their purchase when they are most interested in your brand.
Even as more customers are venturing out to shop locations as we move toward a post-pandemic era, online purchases will remain a driving force for commerce. This includes options such as “click and collect,” in which customers buy through the website and pick up the merchandise curbside or in-store. These types of sales account for over $60-billion annually.
How can you leverage these sales opportunities? Start by making sure your website is in peak operating condition and contains all of the details shoppers need to become brand-loyal customers. Take a step back and consider: Does your domain accurately reflect your business and is it easy to remember? Is your site easy to navigate? Do all of your page links work? Is there a clear path to purchase throughout the site? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, making these adjustments should be a top priority.
Create and maintain a social media connection with your brand followers. Over 90 percent of U.S. buyers consistently interact on social media with brands they follow. Use this to your advantage. Post regularly with links that give customers reasons to keep coming back to your website. Determine which social media channels (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more) are the most effective ways to reach your audience. When you receive comments, be quick to respond with helpful information. Promote offers in your posts. And don’t forget to show the human side of your company with employee and “client of the month” features.
Gather an email list through your website and regularly reach out to your audience through email messages. Thank customers for their patronage and give them a coupon for their next purchase. Tell them about new happenings within your company. Keep a constant dialog going that helps you understand your customers and how you can best help them.
Blog consistently and start a content calendar that allows you to coordinate all your campaign elements (blogs, emails, and social media posts) in advance. Schedule these elements as a campaign – your blog should be announced via email and social media and all launched on the same date (with frequent follow up messaging) for maximum impact.
These are just a few of the ways you can increase your online presence. Start by becoming consistent in all of these areas and stay the course. Building a digital connection with your audience won’t happen overnight, but with a little diligence, the results you create will help to propel your business successfully into the future.
Steve Slais is Partner and Chief Creative Officer at Spoke Marketing. Spoke Marketing (www.spokemarketing.com) provides fully-integrated marketing and sales programs that define and activate the customer buyer journey.